10 January '10
In a weekend interview with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Haaretz asked why British public opinion is “the most anti-Israel” in Europe. “Look, there’s criticism everywhere,” Blair responded. “But that’s partly because people don’t understand how difficult this situation is when you come under attack, your civilians come under attack, and you’re a democratic government and you’re expected to respond.”
Even by itself, that’s a remarkable statement: the problem, according to Blair, is not Israel’s actions; it’s that other Western countries, not facing the same daily assaults, refuse to recognize that if they did, they might respond similarly.
Even more remarkable, however, is the next sentence: “I mean, we face this [situation] continually. We face it now, actually, in places like Afghanistan.”
In short, Westerners should understand Israel because they’re in the same boat: their own armies are causing civilian casualties “in places like Afghanistan” for the exact same reasons.
So why do many Westerners either refuse to see the parallels or regard their own armies’ behavior with similar incomprehension and outrage? In Blair’s view, the heart of the problem is that too many Westerners fail to understand that they face a determined enemy waging a long-term global struggle, not a series of discrete, unrelated local conflicts.
“People sometimes say to me, no, it’s not really Iraq, it’s Afghanistan,” he said. “Someone else will say, no it’s Pakistan, and someone else will say it’s Iraq, and someone else will say it’s Yemen. But actually it’s all of these because in different ways, they represent different challenges that are unified by one single movement with a single ideology. And this is going to be resolved, in my view, over a long period of time. But what is important is that wherever it is fighting us, we’re prepared to fight back … unfortunately, we can’t say: ‘Look, let’s concentrate it here, but not here, and here, and here,’ because that’s not the way this thing’s working. …
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